Dave Heffernan hits 150 for Connacht

Date published: November 25 2021 - News Desk

After a five-week absence, Connacht return to United Rugby Championship action on Friday evening when they face off with the Ospreys.

The Irish province’s matchday squad has been named with four changes to the starting XV that impressively saw off Ulster at the Aviva Stadium last month.

Summer signing Shayne Bolton will make his Connacht debut – the 20-year-old is named at outside centre where he forms a partnership with Sammy Arnold.

There’s two further changes in the back three with Alex Wootton making his first appearance of the season on the wing, and Oran McNulty handed his first Connacht start at full-back. The in-form Mack Hansen starts on the opposite wing, while Kieran Marmion and captain Jack Carty continue at nine and 10 respectively.

The tight five is changed with a front-row of Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham, with Ballina native Heffernan making his 150th appearance for this home province.

There’s a second-row pairing of Niall Murray and Ultan Dillane, and the final change is in the back-row where Jarrad Butler starts at blindside flanker, opposite Conor Oliver and Paul Boyle completing the side from number eight.

Ospreys chasing fifth win

Meanwhile, Rhys Webb captains an Ospreys side looking to go five wins out of six in the United Rugby Championship. He lines up alongside Stephen Myler, who is at fly-half with Luke Morgan, Max Nagy and Dan Evans forming the back three. Joe Hawkins and Owen Watkin create the centre partnership.

Nicky Smith, Elvis Taione and Tom Botha pack down in the front-row with Bradley Davies and Rhys Davies in the engine room. Sam Cross, Jac Morgan and Ethan Roots complete the forwards in the back-row.

Off the bench, Sam Parry, Gareth Thomas and Rhys Henry provide the front-row cover with Will Griffiths and Morgan Morris completing the forward contingent. Reuben Morgan-Williams, Josh Thomas and Cai Evans complete the matchday 23.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Oran McNulty, 14 Alex Wootton, 13 Shayne Bolton, 12 Sammy Arnold, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Jack Carty (c), 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Paul Boyle, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Jarrad Butler, 5 Ultan Dillane, 4 Niall Murray, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Matthew Burke
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Oisín Dowling, 20 Eoghan Masterson, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Peter Robb

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Max Nagy, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Rhys Webb (c), 8 Ethan Roots, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Sam Cross, 5 Rhys Davies, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Rhys Henry, 19 Will Griffiths, 20 Morgan Morris, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Josh Thomas, 23 Cai Evans

Venue: The Sportsground
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Ben Blain (SRU)
Assistant referees: Peter Martin (IRFU), Dan Carson (IRFU)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (IRFU)